Peter Malnati grabs Bermuda lead as fans return to PGA Tour

World No. 166 Malnati makes nine birdies and one bogey for an eight-under 63 at Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton.

Peter Malnati's opening score marked the third time in his last three starts where he shot rounds of 63 or better. - AP

Peter Malnati birdied the final hole to grab a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Bermuda Championship on Thursday in the first PGA Tour event to have fans since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malnati made nine birdies, including five straight over a scorching stretch around the turn, and one bogey for an eight-under 63 at Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton where fellow Americans Doug Ghim and Ryan Armour were one shot off the pace.

'Long game starting to click'

For World No. 166 Malnati, who finished runner-up to Sergio Garcia nearly four weeks ago in Mississippi, his opening score marked the third time in his last three starts where he shot rounds of 63 or better.

“My strengths that have kept me on Tour for as long as I’ve been here have been wedges and short game and putting and I’ve worked hard to make sure that those are still sharp,” said Malnati, who has one win since joining the PGA Tour in 2014.

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“I’m starting - my long game’s starting to click a little bit and get a little better, so that definitely is what’s going on here right now.”

Doc Redman, who holed out for eagle from 94 yards at the par-four 15th, was among a group of three players sitting two shots back of Malnati.

The Bermuda Championship is allowing a maximum of 500 fans at Port Royal for each tournament day, making it the first PGA Tour event to have spectators since the Players Championship in March was cancelled after one round because of COVID-19.

 

Defending champion Brendon Todd, looking to become the first player to successfully defend a PGA Tour title since Brooks Koepka at the 2019 PGA Championship, offset four bogeys with four birdies for an opening even-par 71.

Some of the notable names in the field are former major champions Stewart Cink (66), Padraig Harrington (67), Danny Willett (67), Henrik Stenson (69), and Jason Dufner (71).

Anirban Lahiri tied-26th

Three bogeys on the back nine spoilt Anirban Lahiri’s opening-day card at the Bermuda Championship.

Lahiri had to settle for a three-under 68 that placed him Tied-26th.

Lahiri was 5-under through the first 10 holes but finished the last seven holes two-over. He had started with a 66 on the same course last year and he could have bettered that score on Thursday but for the terrible back-nine.

Lahiri started birdie-birdie before dropping a shot on fourth. He quickly steadied himself and birdied fifth, sixth and ninth to turn in 4-under.

A birdie on 10th made it 5-under. He suffered back-to-back bogeys on 12th and 13th but did get one back on 17th, only to drop a shot on 18th.

Meanwhile, Arjun Atwal began with a birdie and then had to wait till the 18th for his only other birdie. In between, he dropped a double bogey and four other bogeys for a disappointing 4-over 75, leaving him to do a lot of work to stay on for the weekend.

 

Richerson elected PGA president

Jim Richerson was elected the 42nd president of the PGA of America at a virtual annual meeting that included Tim Rosaforte becoming the first journalist to be awarded honorary membership.

Richerson, the senior vice president of operations for Arizona-based Troon Golf, succeeds Suzy Whaley. He previous was general manager and director of golf for Wisconsin-based Kohler, where he first was elected a PGA officer.

The PGA of America, which has some 29,000 members, held its annual meeting virtually for the first time in its 104 years on Thursday because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the final acts of Whaley, the first female president in PGA history, was to bestow honorary membership to Rosaforte, whose career spans newspapers, magazines and television.

He is the 12th person to be appointed a PGA Honorary Member, joining a list that includes former Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush, and nine-time major champion Gary Player.

Rosaforte, 65, retired last December and is battling early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease. He worked at three newspapers in Florida, Sports Illustrate and Golf Digest, and most recently was part of the NBC-Golf Channel reporting team.

John Lindert of Grand Ledge, Michigan, succeeds Richerson as vice president, while Don Rea of Gilbert, Arizona, was elected secretary.